May 15, 2023
MANILA — Elreen Ando shattered all existing records in her new weight class on the way to victory on Sunday, the country’s first gold medal in women’s weightlifting at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.
The 24-year-old pride of Cebu City slowly raised the massive 98-kilogram metal plates overhead and kept a firm grip before letting go, eclipsing the 96kg standard established by Vietnam’s Hoang Thi Duyen during the Hanoi Games last year.
Ando duplicated the record-breaker later on in the clean and jerk with a 118kg lift, again surpassing Hoang’s 2021 standard in the event at 115.
Thailand’s Suratwadee Yodsarn pocketed the silver with 206 total built on her 91 in the snatch and 115 in the clean and jerk while Hoang, last year’s champion, placed third.
“It was some sort of redemption for me. The hard work paid off,’’ said Ando, who got a silver medal in the women’s 64kg back in Hanoi.
“This is for my father,’’ added the Tokyo Olympian, who dedicated the win to his father who died from liver cancer.
Ando didn’t figure prominently in the Asian Championships recently in Jinju, South Korea where she ended 15th in the 2024 Paris Olympics qualifier. Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz finished fourth in the same weight class.
“I got depressed when I wasn’t able to finish in the Asian championships. I picked up the pieces and motivated myself again to redeem myself,’’ said Ando.
Ando’s victory broke a streak of four silver medals for the Philippine weightlifting squad at the National Olympic Stadium here.
Rosalinda Faustino (women’s 55kg), Angeline Colonia (women’s 45kg), Lovely Inan (49kg) and John Febuar Ceniza (men’s 61kg) placed second in their respective weight categories.
With Hidilyn Diaz skipping the SEA Games, the nation will likewise rely on Kristel Macrohon (+71kg) and defending champion Vanessa Sarno (-71kg) to bring home the mints.